By Alessandra CalderinPosted 07.27.2010 at 12:58 pm 3 Comments
When the Deepwater Horizon rig began leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April, the cleanup schemes were underwhelming: fire, dispersants, pantyhose stuffed with human hair. But a new robotic system could corral future spills in hours so that oil never hits the shore.
Aeros (Airborne Robotic Oil Spill Recovery System) is a fleet of airplane-deployed robots that cordon off the oil and use centrifuge-like oil/water separators to collect oil for refining. Each 'bot can purify up to 3,000 gallons of water a minute.
Israeli researchers have sniffed out what could become a way to give paraplegics and those suffering from "locked-in" syndrome a means to communicate with the outside world and even drive a wheelchair using their noses. Using a device that converts nasal pressure into electrical signals, the team has successfully enabled locked-in patients to write messages independent of stimulus and allowed paraplegics to effectively navigate an electric wheelchair.
While U.S. legislators continue to argue the fate of America's heavy-lift rocket ambitions, China is setting the bar high by looking into launch vehicle designs that could generate a thrust of more than 660 tons, increasing by orders of magnitude the nation's ability to launch heavy payloads into space.
China is already developing a heavy-lift rocket expected to make its preliminary test flights in 2014, the Long March-5. The LM-5 would boast 132 tons of thrust, plenty for delivering cargo to the space station or reaching geostationary transfer orbit where most communications satellites are launched.
It may not look like much, but NASA's next candidate to touch down on Mars has taken its first steps toward its larger ambition of exploring the Martian landscape in 2012.
Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory had a big week last week, mounting the Remote Sensing Mast and an array of navigation and sensing cameras on their latest Mars rover. Then on Friday Curiosity took its first drive, traveling about three feet back and forth on its brand new 20-inch aluminum wheels.
Each month we look beyond the shelves of your local big-box store to dig up a dozen of the best new ideas in gear. This is the stuff that is better, faster, stronger, and does more than pretty much anything we've seen before it. Click the gallery thumbnails below to dive in:
The world's most sophisticated robots don't assemble trucks or cruise around Mars. They're designed to support our surging population of elderly and disabled citizens. Meet 10 of the most promising senior-friendly 'bots.
Bits of Chinese space junk are flying near the International Space Station, and the astronauts on board are prepared to take cover. While space junk threats to the station are nothing new, this one is unique -- the debris in question comes from a Chinese weather satellite that the Chinese military used for target practice in an anti-satellite missile demonstration three years ago.
This pancake-flipping robotic arm is definitely one of the more endearing helper 'bots we've seen. After a hand-held lesson from its programmers, it just tries so hard to flip a pancake. And it fails, again and again.
After about 50 attempts, the arm is finally able to perfect its wrist-flipping technique, so the fake metal flapjack flips and lands in the skillet. You almost want to start clapping.
Future airplane flocks would require a trained corps of pilots who intimately know their aircraft and their partners' flying habits. Drone flocks would be a different task, however. Drones are not as smart as pilots, and cannot tell what other aircraft will do. But the military would like to change that.
There’s an app for everything, Apple says, and apparently that rule does not exclude "the operation ofadvanced missile defenses." Raytheon has developed an app for the Patriot anti-missile system that helps troops stay sharp on the weapons platform even when they are called away from their primary peacetime duties for combat tours.